September 19, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at RH Reality Check, the Reproductive Health Access Project and more.
ABORTION ACCESS: "Iowa's Telemedicine Abortions Can Continue -- for Now," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Telemedicine abortions can continue in Iowa for now, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, blocking a rule by the Iowa Board of Medicine that threatened to shut down the use of video-conferencing technology to help rural Iowans access abortion care," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, abortion-rights supporters have said the rule, if permitted to take effect, would mean that abortion access in the state would be limited "to Des Moines and Iowa City, with some patients in rural and medically under-served areas forced to travel more than 500 miles round-trip, multiple times, to access care." She writes that while opponents of the rule consider the decision a victory for women in the state, the decision only blocks the requirements while an appeal of a lower court's ruling -- which "would have allowed the rule to take effect" -- is reviewed (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 9/17).
What others are saying about abortion access:
~ "'I Feel Like I Was Tricked': New Documentary Uncovers How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie to Women," Jenny Kutner, Salon.
PREGNANCY CARE: "'I Was Treated Better When I Had an Abortion,'" Linda Prine, Reproductive Health Access Project blog: Prine, medical director of the Reproductive Health Access Project, says she was "shocked" by a patient's account of "the care she received in the previous weeks when she started to have some vaginal bleeding early in her pregnancy." She notes that the woman was told to visit a hospital emergency room, where "she waited more than six hours before she saw a doctor, another three hours until she got an ultrasound, and then another four hours before anyone told her what was happening." After learning that her fetus no longer had a heartbeat, the woman called her ob-gyn's office, where she was "treated like she didn't matter at all and that her pregnancy 'didn't matter,'" Prine continues. She writes that miscarriages "should not be marginalized," adding that women should not be made to feel as if they are receiving "special treatment to be respected, to have [their] worries addressed and to have [their] grieving acknowledged." She also calls for "family medicine [to] step up to the plate and own miscarriage care," which rarely constitutes a visit to the ER (Prine, Reproductive Health Access Project blog, 9/16).
GLOBAL: "Why is the U.S. Standing Between Women and Health Care?" Nina Besser, International Women's Health Coalition's "Akimbo": Because of longstanding federal restrictions on abortion funding under the Helms Amendment, the U.S. government is essentially "complicit" in the number of maternal deaths that result globally from unsafe abortions, but President Obama has the authority to mitigate some of this harm by clarifying how the amendment should be interpreted, Besser argues. Besser writes that while the Helms Amendment prohibits U.S. funds from being used to provide abortions overseas "as a method of family planning," it does not "apply to abortions provided in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman"; it does "not bar the U.S. government from purchasing the medical equipment and drugs needed for complete post-abortion care"; and it "does not prevent U.S. government-funded [non-governmental organizations] from providing counseling, education, and referrals for women with unwanted pregnancies." Besser notes, "The Helms Amendment is bad enough; it's time to end the unnecessarily restrictive interpretation of the law that keeps women in some of the poorest areas of the world from accessing critical health services" (Besser, "Akimbo," IWHC, 9/16).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "Why the Health of Mothers and Newborns is Inseparable," Esther Sharma, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Why We Need to #LiftTheBan on Abortion in War Zones," Anita Little, Ms. Magazine blog.
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Teens' Check-Ups Need To Include More Conversations About Sex," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Physicians need to "spend more time addressing issues of sexuality with teenage patients," according to recent research, Culp-Ressler writes. She notes that few "pediatricians offer regular screening, counseling, and vaccination for sexually transmitted infections," and that this "lack of doctor-patient interaction isn't helping address the country's high rates of teen pregnancy or low rates of [the human papillomavirus] vaccination." Culp-Ressler also discusses the "pervasive attitude" among some adults that "providing kids with sexual health resources will encourage them to become sexually active or make riskier choices," when in fact "kids who receive medically accurate sexual health education in school are more likely to delay sex." Physicians "have an important role to play" in providing this information, particularly given that "a patchwork of state laws" on sex education "ensures that many teens don't get those classes early enough," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9 /17).
CONTRACEPTION: "Millions of Women Don't Have To Pay a Dollar When They Pick Up Their Birth Control," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": There has been a "substantial increase in the proportion of women benefiting from no-cost contraception" under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) "between the fall of 2012, right before the health law began taking effect, and the spring of 2014," according to a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, Culp-Ressler writes. However, she also notes that "there's a chance that some people may not be able to access these benefits," such as women with employer-sponsored health plans through certain companies with religious objections to contraception. Meanwhile, litigation over the benefit has "created an environment in which some women remain confused about whether their insurance plans should be offering them birth control without a co-pay," she writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9/18).